Mustard On Brisket: Why It’s Used And 7 Alternatives

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Mustard is a common binder to use on brisket. It adds a tangy flavor that many of us enjoy! 

However, some people find that it can overpower the meat. 

So below you’ll see why mustard is commonly used on beef brisket. Then I’ll recommend some alternatives to using mustard on your brisket! 

7 Alternatives To Mustard When Cooking Brisket

The reasons we use mustard on brisket are;

– Ensures your brisket rub sticks during the cooking process.

– Adds and enhances flavor for an even more amazing recipe.

– Helps break down the connective tissue & denatures the muscle fibers and proteins.

So we need to find alternatives that cover these main components. So lets find out what to use as a binder for brisket if you dont want to use mustard!

Barbecue Sauce 

Barbecue sauce is a great substitute for mustard on raw meat.

Brisket is the king of BBQ so why wouldn’t you want to include barbecue sauce?

Containing acid, sugar, and salt, barbecue sauce has many components similar to mustard.

The tangy apple cider vinegar in this sauce will break down proteins.

Sweet tomatoes and added sugar will caramelize to form the perfect bark.

The consistency is easily spreadable and goes a long way, even for a mammoth packer brisket!

Did I mention the complex flavor of barbecue sauce?

A depth of flavor from the spices will transform the cooked brisket.

Tip: Making barbecue sauce is easy with ingredients you likely have at home.

Try it yourself and get creative with the flavor and spices.

I think garlic powder, molasses, and dried parsley are a must!

Sweet Sauce Or Marinade 

Sweet sauces like hoisin or a Washinton mumbo will work just as well as an alternative.

The above are just 2 examples of the uncountable sauces available in all cultures.

You can even get creative and theme the brisket recipe on flavors in a cuisine.

Sweet sauces are built from sweet and savory combinations.

You can bet most will also have an acidic component the same way a mustard recipe does.

Check the consistency of the sauce to determine how much you will need.

The flavor component is up to your discretion and part of the fun!

Just make sure there aren’t conflicting ingredients in the sauce and your brisket rub.

Hot Sauce 

A hot sauce is the perfect substitute for mustard on a brisket.

There are so many varieties of hot sauce, so have fun getting lost in the rabbit hole!

Popular brands like Sriracha or small batch sauces with infinite flavor combinations.

Hot sauce will add a depth of flavor like mustard and spice.

They also contain high acidity for tender and moist meat. 

I recommend finding a thicker sauce with spices and fruit like pineapple or mango.

The consistency will be easier to apply and you can play around with the flavors.

Look for natural ingredients with no added preservatives or additives.

Don’t be afraid to try something new!


You might ask yourself how oil can be substituted for mustard.

It does have binding properties but can lack flavor and is a tenderizer. 

Some of the benefits of the oil are cost-effectiveness and availability.

Most have a high smoke point, so you don’t have to worry about it burning so easily. 

To make oil a worthy mustard alternative you should add some other ingredients. 

Combining good quality kosher salt will tenderize meat like acid. 

Sugar can also be added to create chemical reactions.

Now the only question is flavor…

If you don’t want any added flavor you can of course leave the oil how it is!

But I find infusing some dry aromatics, spices, and herbs gives the oil a lift in your recipe.


Who doesn’t like the sweet taste of real honey from local pollen?

The natural sugars will start tasty chemical processes a brisket needs during the smoking process.

Don’t pick set honey as it will be hard to disperse on your large brisket. 

Think about thinning the honey with vinegar to give it tenderizing properties. 

This also helps with getting an even layer and not costing you a fortune!

Honey can be dark and strong tasting or have a mild floral taste.

This is dependent on the pollen the bees have been harvesting. 

Check the honey’s packaging for the flavor profile and don’t be afraid to add other ingredients. 

Soy sauce and chili flakes for an oriental twist or even mustard powder for honey mustard!

Note: Honey can burn easily from your smoker temp so you only need to apply a light coat.

The natural viscosity will bind dry ingredients without a large amount!

Worchester Sauce 

This legendary sauce makes a perfect alternative for an amazing and flavorful brisket.

Contains key elements in the ingredients you will find in any commercial mustard.

Distilled white vinegar and vegetable enzymes will tenderize the brisket.

Molasses and tamarinds help start the chemical processes from natural sugars.

Fermented onions, garlic, and anchovies add an umami flavor component.

Worchester sauce has a thin consistency so thickens with honey or palm sugar.

This means your dry ingredients can stick with ease during the cooking process. 


Believe it or not, mayonnaise is a popular binder for meat and can replace mustard. 

Because mayo is a fat emulsion and has very similar ingredients to yellow mustard.

Oil and egg yokes are combined before adding vinegar and spices.

Giving you flavor and tenderizing properties for your brisket like in classic barbecue joints.

Smothering mayonnaise all over brisket is easy due to its consistency.

So dry ingredients can remain attached over the 8-12 hours it takes to cook on average.

The Benefits of Using Mustard on Brisket

Mustard isn’t just a condiment on top of your hotdogs!

It can be used in many ways to bring out the flavor of meat. 

This is because it contains ingredients that help flavor and tenderize your brisket.

Below are the key points for why you should use types of mustard before cooking:

Adds A Rich Mustard Flavor To Brisket

Mustard has a delicious natural flavor that is enhanced by its ingredients. 

The first hurdle when cooking brisket is the size!

Making sure your flavorings are evenly dispersed is vital though the cooking process.

Adding extra flavor from tangy yellow mustard or a bold undertone in brown mustard.

These are only 2 examples from a myriad of store-bought or homemade and prepared mustard.

The developing flavor is one of the reasons why mustard is used on beef brisket.

Mustard Binders Work Best For The Smoking Process

With the size of the brisket in mind, you should know it has a long cooking time!

This makes it harder for your desired seasoning rub to stay stuck to the surface of the meat.

Don’t lose out on flavor by letting your seasonings fall off when cooking!

A wet and sticky mustard layer is the perfect binder for brisket.

This technique will stop you from losing dehydrated spices; like kosher salt or black pepper.

You should also remember that the average size of brisket is 12 pounds! A 12-pound brisket will take at least a 400ml jar of mustard.

Note: Flavorful bark on a brisket is produced from smoky chemical reactions. Binding brown sugar with mustard increases the chances of a delicious and uniform bark.

Mustard Is A Meat Tenderizer 

Nearly all varieties of wet mustard contain enzymes and have an acidic component in them.

This is what helps tenderize the meat proteins before and during cooking.

Smothering mustard to your brisket before cooking will help break down tough connective tissue and fat. 

It also helps with moisture retention in the proteins through denaturation. 

Tip: Add the mustard a couple of hours before the delicious smoking begins!

Transform your brisket into an even more delicious dish with a layer of mustard.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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